Reviews

Blueink Review

The rise of populist governments, from the U.S. to Brazil to the Philippines, signals a loss of confidence in political “establishments” with their conventional wisdoms. In this book, Karun Philip offers non-establishment solutions to social issues including education, poverty, and the challenges of entrepreneurship in developing economies.

Philip follows Austrian free-market economist F.A. Hayek. With Hayek, Philip holds that all theories, and in fact all human perceptions, are fallible. Since no one has an infallible picture of reality, any justification for coercing people to behave or think in certain ways is itself fallible. Therefore, the main purpose of law is to ban coercion. Activities that don’t coerce someone else are allowable.

The author applies his twin axioms of the fallibility of all theories, and the principle of non-coercion, to fields such as banking, law, social welfare and religion. He shows how creative solutions based on these axioms can create private incentives to resolve social problems. The author avers that solutions based on enlightened self-interest, rather than on government bureaucracies, are more cost-effective and productive.

Philip admits that historically wealthy and powerful groups have oppressed socially weaker groups, for example ethnic minorities or unskilled laborers. He argues, however, that socialism has failed such peoples, and that answers to their plight are possible through a creative use of free-market solutions.

Philip’s breezy prose explains difficult subjects, for example the history of banking, remarkably clearly for the educated layperson. However, he assumes that “socialism” has failed but neither defines the term nor explains how it has failed. Germany has had socialized medicine since 1883, which some would call a success; the author should have supported his dismissal of socialism. Technical errors also distract: incorrect verb tenses, missing words, and typos.

Yet, Philip’s wide-ranging text represents an integrated philosophy. Avoiding extremes, with sober rationalism, he offers solutions without the baggage of standard political or ideological pigeon-holes. The book will interest readers who vote Libertarian, budding entrepreneurs, and non-academic philosophers.

 

Foreword Clarion Review

Zen and the Art of Funk Capitalism advocates for free market capitalism in an erudite, no-nonsense fashion.

Karun Philip’s philosophical economic text Zen and the Art of Funk Capitalism examines difficult concepts in a down-to-earth manner.

Exploring the fallibility of knowledge and how it relates to free market capitalism’s inability to eradicate poverty, the book’s lodestone is the work of Austrian economist F. A. Hayek. It expends most of its energy explaining how people know things and what types of knowledge lead to wealth. In essence, its argument is that free market capitalism is the optimal economic system, but that more should be done to educate the poor about what types of fallible knowledge produce wealth.

Its political stance never in doubt, the text declares “I believe in democracy, I believe in individual liberty…I believe in the power of banking and capital, used without coercion or favor, to completely eliminate poverty forever.” These are the usual talking points of free market libertarianism, and that ideology is supported throughout the book.

As a libertarian manifesto, the text is anything but basic. It is divided into several chapters composed of small essays that deal with everything from Aristotle to faith and religion in an attempt to present a holistic interpretation of how and why capitalism works. Its conclusion states that several economic measures, including the evolution of the securitization of credit and monetary competition, can eliminate most poverty, if they are coupled with increased rationalism among entrepreneurs. Such arguments are sensible and well laid out.

Most successful in presenting tough, obtuse philosophical concepts in everyday language, the book relies on real-world examples to explain why some systems succeed and others fail. It is convincing in arguing that the usual collection of “anti-poverty” measures increase poverty and do little to ameliorate the issue of generational economic failure.

But because the text is so wide-ranging, there are also some misses with the book’s arguments. When the major world religions are discussed, their theologies and histories are only addressed at a surface level. Enlightenment-esque rationalism is applied to faith rather than academic criticism, and the result is not etymologically sound. Attempts to explain faith without God interject theories of democracy into Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity without success. Overreliance on Hayek’s work and failures to interact with critics of free market capitalism also weaken the text.

Zen and the Art of Funk Capitalism advocates for free market capitalism in an erudite, no-nonsense fashion.

Reviewed by Benjamin Welton
September 19, 2019

 

The US Review of Books

book review by Jonah Meyer

“The truth seems to be that there are systemic structural issues that keep certain types of people and families constantly disadvantaged and poor.”

A spirited treatise on the philosophy of economics, Philip’s text examines such interwoven issues of poverty, capitalism, fallibility, human knowledge, education, societal welfare, entrepreneurship, and more. After an initial chapter covering general epistemology (philosophy of knowledge), the author addresses the core issue of poverty as an unfortunate consequence of capitalism, even though it is the modern Western capitalistic system, he asserts, which has benefited the greatest number of people. “There is no doubt that poverty is undesirable,” Philip writes, “and disturbing to anyone who has ordinary human emotions.” However, he argues, no government can—or should—attempt to “legislate a ban on poverty.” Rather, the author stresses, democratic debate and scientific inquiry are invaluable vehicles for understanding oppression and monetary challenge. Philip draws much of his ideas from Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek (1899–1992).

An interesting appendix takes a look at the world’s major religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, positing that the growing number of people who are non-religious (self-described “rationalists”) would do well to consider that these religious traditions have in common the sincere intention to value (at least in theory) all human life, seeking an existence for their respective cultures which aims to fulfill the needs—including basic sustenance—of all members in society. Philip ultimately attempts to make a case for a kinder, gentler capitalism with reasonable regulations built-in and safety-nets present to safeguard those monetarily and socially marginalized. Readers interested in such matters and who wish to consider the possibilities surrounding an examination of competing economic philosophies will absolutely enjoy Philip’s book. It reads rather like an academic and informed long-form essay on the “funk” (or underbelly) of capitalism and is quite an intellectually stimulating read.

 

Pacific Book Review

Economics is so much more than just the simple study, understanding and practice of wealth and business. Economics impacts many aspects of our society. As Ben Bernanke once said, “The ultimate purpose of economics, of course, is to understand and promote the enhancement of well-being.” In author Karun Philip’s book Zen and the Art of Funk Capitalism: A General Theory of Fallibility, the theories of economics and the reality of the economy are put to the test as the author explores not only economics in general, but it’s relations to law, philosophy and more.

In this book, the author not only explores their experiences as an entrepreneur and the practice of economic theory versus the reality of economics, but goes even deeper, exploring philosophy and the inherent idea that knowledge itself is fallible. It explores how the practice of capitalism works sometimes, but not all the time as it promises to. The book is a study of Western practices and the impact these philosophical differences have on several aspects of everyday life.

One of the best aspects of this book is its readability. It is filled with an abundance of information in just a hundred or so pages, and yet the message it conveys is readable enough for anyone to be able to jump into the book and have a firm understanding of its message. Not only that, but the author has created some truly thought-provoking ideas and messages which will allow readers to learn something new with each reading.

This is a read for anyone who enjoys economics, philosophy and the impact of economics and philosophy on history and politics in general. As a history and philosophy enthusiast, it was interesting to see the author’s ability to utilize these two subjects into the study of economics, a subject not everyone is passionate about, and made for it to be fascinating and interesting to read and study. It is a rare talent that an author is able to convey this message for general audiences, and yet Karun Philip has done this marvelously in his book.

Overall this is a fascinating book that readers will have difficult putting down. From the practice of entrepreneurship to the theory of culture and its impact on business and economics, this book is loaded with practical, theoretical and philosophical questions and ideas that challenges the reader on every level, and yet keeps it interesting and fresh for the reader to engage with the author’s message. Grab your copy of Karun Phillip’s Zen and the Art of Funk Capitalism: A General Theory of Fallibility and see for yourselves why this book is fresh and educational, as well as deep thinking, for all readers to enjoy.